Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scheduling concerns suggest Edwards jury not near verdict

Jurors could take a long time to sift through more than 2,000 documents in 503 exhibits generated during John Edwards' trial. NBC's Lisa Myers reports for Weekend TODAY.

By Lisa Myers, NBC News, and M. Alex Johnson, msnbc.com

The judge in the campaign finance corruption trial of former presidential candidate John Edwards indicated Tuesday that proceedings could stretch well into June after a second closed-door meeting with prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Analysis: John Edwards jury speaks with its silence

Stacey Klein of NBC News contributed to this report by Lisa Myers of NBC News and M. Alex Johnson of msnbc.com. Follow M. Alex Johnson on Twitter and Facebook.

For the second straight court day ? there was no session Monday because of the Memorial Day holiday ? U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles closed the courtroom in Greensboro, N.C., for about 45 minutes Tuesday morning. Court officials told NBC News she was discussing a "juror issue" with attorneys in the case.

For several days, Eagles has taken extra care to remind jurors that all deliberations must take place in the jury room with all 12 jurors present and only there, raising speculation that one or more of the eight men and four women on the panel may have been discussing the case outside the courthouse. The judge said?if jurors talk in small groups it can be divisive and make it more difficult for the group to reach a verdict.

The original 12 jurors were still in place Tuesday, however, and there was no indication that Eagles might be considering sequestering them.

Before?breaking for lunch, Eagles referred to?some juror scheduling conflicts, noting?that it is "high school graduation season." She asked the jury members to pass along notes with their scheduling needs through the end of next week,?suggesting?deliberations could drag on well into June, raising the prospect that a trial that started in April could still be in process when summer begins on June 20.

Deliberations resumed at 2 p.m. ET after lunch on the seventh day of discussion.

Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards has faced public and private challenges throughout his life and career.

Edwards, 58 ? a former U.S. senator from North Carolina and the Democrats' 2004 vice presidential nominee ? is charged with six felony counts of accepting about $1 million in illegal and unreported donations during his 2008 presidential campaign from two wealthy supporters at a time when individual donations were limited to $2,300.

If convicted on all counts, Edwards could face 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. As he headed for lunch Tuesday, a confident-looking Edwards told Ben Thompson of NBC station WCNC in Charlotte, N.C., "I feel fine."

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